Selective solution of macroinvertebrate calcareous hard parts: a laboratory study


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Ten suites of 16 common types of invertebrate hard parts were placed in acid baths for 24 hours to determine relative rates and common styles of dissolution. Skeletal mineralogies included aragonite and both high‐magnesium and low‐magnesium calcite. Hard parts included barnacle cxoskelctons, cchinoid tests, gastropod opercula and gastropod and bivalve shells. Calcitic barnacle plates dissolved most rapidly, aragonitic and high magnesium calcitic hard parts showed intermediate rates, and the calcitic shells of the oyster dissolved at the lowest rate. The surface area to weight ratio of the hard parts correlated (r=0.650) significantly with the hard part's rate of dissolution. Skeletal remains with a high surface area to weight ratio dissolved faster than those with a low surface area to weight ratio. Skeletal porosity and mineralogy appeared to be responsible for additional variation in the rate of dissolution. The effect of the surface area to weight ratio is sufficient to overcome the effect of mineralogy. Dense, compact aragonitic hard parts can persist longer than porous, thin calcitic remains. Typical features associated with skeletal degradation include development of chalky textures, thinning of distal margins, surface etching and formation of holes in bivalve muscle scars. Such features may aid in the recognition of partial dissolution of skeletal remains in the rock record. □Taphonomy, paleoecology, fossil‐diagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology


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